On the last day of examination by the prosecution, Philippe Mangou was questioned about the march organized by the Ouattara camp on the RTI and the March 2011 events in Abobo.
“Regarding What Happened with the Women, It Was Not Our Men“
The alleged killing of the seven women in Abobo on March 3, 2011 is an important event in the trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, who are charged with crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC). On his last day of direct examination, prosecution witness Philippe Mangou testified about this event.
Mangou, Gbagbo’s former Chief of Staff, said that this incident had nothing to do with the military under his command.
“Our men were not involved. They were in the commando camp. What happened with the women was not our men’s doing,” the witness said, adding that he relied on an “internal investigation.”
Another incident mentioned was the bombing of the “Siaka Koné” market in Abobo municipality. Again the witness said that his men were not involved.
“If we had done it, I do not think Abobo would be as it is today,” the witness testified.
“Police Were in Contact with the Marchers”
On his last day of direct examination, the prosecution, led by prosecutor Eric McDonald, questioned Mangou at length about the march organized by the Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) on December 16, 2010. According to the witness, Gbagbo, who on the eve of the event met with the high command, demanded that the rally be prevented.
“The instructions,” the witness said, “were that the march should not take place.”
In spite of Gbagbo’s wish, the RHDP marchers finally came out. However, the witness claimed that his men did not have to intervene on the marchers.
“The military system had no contact with the marchers. It was a system to deter marchers and prevent elements outside Abidjan from infiltrating the system. Crowd control was their responsibility. The police were in contact with the marchers.”
During the march, a clash between soldiers loyal to Laurent Gbagbo and those supporting Alassane Ouattara took place in the vicinity of the Golf Hotel. At the end of the fighting, which according to Mangou turned pro-Gbagbo, the French army issued instructions.
“After the confrontation at the Golf, I received instructions from General Palasset who asked me not to move the men, to stay put. General Palasset said to me: ‘If you ever touch the Golf, consider that you are going to war against France. When I reported to the President of the Republic, he asked me to stay put,’” said the prosecution witness.
“There Has Never Been Any Question of Integrating Militiamen”
The issue of the pro-Gbagbo militia was one of the subjects discussed by Mangou and McDonald. The witness said that under his command no militiaman joined the ranks of the Ivorian army.
“There was never any question of integrating militiamen into the FDS [Defense and Security Forces]. All the time that I was Chief of Staff, there were no militiamen in the FDS,” the witness said.
Mangou also testified about the call for enlistment launched by Charles Blé Goudé and the rally that followed on the premises of the General Staff. The witness said he had spoken to the young people and asked them to go home. Mangou added that he refused to distribute weapons to young people who asked for them.
“I was very surprised to see many young people come on March 21, 2011, in the morning to the General Staff Headquarters to be enlisted. I asked them to go home and told them they would only be called after the last FDS has fallen,” said the witness.
However, according to Mangou, Blé Goudé, initiator of the gathering, had an altogether different strategy in mind. “Blé Goudé approached me and said, ‘We should pretend to distribute weapons to young people.’ I told him that we could not do that. We did not have weapons or ammunition, so we could not do that,” he said.
As for recruitment into the army, the witness claimed that three recruitments were made “lawfully” under his command. “While we were in business, we authorized three recruitments, the first in 2004, which we named the Blé Goudé generation, the second one in 2009, and the last one in January 2011,” he said.
Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé are charged with four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and other inhumane acts, or – in the alternative – attempted murder and persecution. The accused allegedly committed these crimes during post-electoral violence in Côte d’Ivoire between December 16, 2010 and April 12, 2011.
This summary comes from Ivoire Justice, which offers monitoring and commentary on the ICC’s proceedings arising from the post-election violence that occurred in Cote d’Ivoire in 2010-2011. It has been translated into English for use on International Justice Monitor.